What is the morality of making revenge a purpose of one's life?these questions i just asked were for a second look, and different opinions on different subjects

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's a little confusing as to whether you wish comments for Frankenstein or something called "A Second Look," a title I can't locate, (perhaps you mean Look Back in Anger?). As to the quality of revenge being moral--either as the focus for an instance or for one's whole life--the answer must be a resounding , "No," if one is asking from within the Western system of morality. Western thought began to turn away from revenge as a suitable element of the Western moral code at an early date. Shakespeare's Hamlet shows Hamlet struggling with this transition in moral code as he seeks to determine the right and moral response when asked to take revenge against his father's murderer. On the other hand, the early Ibo society, as depicted in Things Fall Apart, honored the tradition of revenge, which in fact is why Okonkwo was in the end outcast with ultimate finality. Morality is defined as accordance with a standard or a system of right and good or of right and wrong conduct. Within this standard or system, there may be somewhat of differences between individuals' own moral beliefs, for example, as in whether or not to act with prejudice.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Morality is simply the ability to distinguish the difference between right and wrong based upon a person's individual understanding of the ideas.

This being said, many people could decide to take the Biblical quote from Exodus 21:24-

eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Given that some could qualify that their right for revenge is Biblically based, they could justifiably make the revenge a sole purpose in life.

This being said, on the flip side of this, one could also become obsessed by their revenge and fail to adhere to another quote form the Bible:

Thou shall not covet. (Exodus 20:17)

Loosely translated, one who covets (yearning to posses) revenge fails to adhere to the same standard which allows them the right of revenge (Biblically).

All of this stated, if one cannot distinguish the difference between right and wrong then nothing can be considered "wrong". Morality has no basis here if this is the case.


amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor's decision to exact revenge on the creature is his defense mechanism.  He is at fault for not accepting his guilt, his responsibility for making the creature what he is.  Victor is an irresponsible "parent" who abandoned his child.  All children who are mistreated act out, and the creature is no different. 

Is Victor moral for pledging to spend the rest of his life pursuing the creature for the purpose of revenge?  I believe that it is his way of punishing himself for his actions.  It is the only reason he has to continue living.  Ironically, the two of them (Victor and his "son") spend the remainder of their lives together in this pursuit which is the purpose for both of them continuing to exist.  They could have had a much more pleasant relationship.

Anger and revenge will only destroy the person who refuses to forgive and forget.  Victor is wrong for pledging revenge, but he made many more mistakes before that.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Revenge has very little to do with morality. Revenge is an action taken to make someone or something receive a punishment similar to that punishment which that someone or something unfairly inflicted. Revenge is a proper course of action to take justice into the hands of the people. This is not the case, of course, in a civilized nation. However, many countries believe that the only way to avenge a bad action is by making the perpetrator go through the same thing.

Devoting a lifetime to any reaction that has to do with anger or hatred is never a good thing. More than morality or immorality, it is a matter of common sense.

booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Revenge is something that never feeds one's soul. It's much like guilt. Nothing good comes from it. It eats at one from the inside out and takes pleasure out of everyday occurrences. It ruins relationships; it stops us in our tracks and prevents us from growing into the wonderful, accomplished people we can be in terms of making the world around us better. Before long, the revenge is all we can see: it is like a living entity. Ironically, just as Victor Frankenstein created a monster, revenge in itself is a monster as well; it, too, can rage out of control, and it can hurt the innocent, as did the creature in the novel.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the desire for revenge is certainly a common and comprehensible impulse -- as well as one that is difficult to resist -- it is also often self-defeating. If the desire is frustrated, the frustration felt by the would-be revenger can lead to physical and mental pain and even (as many Renaissance revenge tragedies show) to a kind of madness.  Even if the desire for revenge is successful, revenge can lead to attacks of conscience and a loss of self-respect.  And, of course, Christians assume that the desire for revenge is sinful and therefore self-defeating in yet another way.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is fundamentally a culturally-based question.  The morality of revenge can vary from culture to culture.  In the culture where I grew up, revenge was looked on more like it is seen in things like Hamlet.  That is, it was practically a commandment.  In this way of looking at things, Victor is very much justified in centering his life around getting revenge on the monster.  In our more modern culture, revenge is seen as a much less appropriate motive and therefore we get many answers like the ones above.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can't think of any justification for making the seeking of revenge the primary purpose of ones' life. Even in the instances of someone committing the most heinous of crimes against another (brutal abuse and murder of a family member, leader of mass suicide or killing, etc.), the seeking of revenge serves only to perpetuate the hate. I understand how some people can feel they "deserve" or "need" to exact payment for a wrong done to them, but that kind of reaction has no place in moral behavior.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since Victor has assumed the role of the creator, why should he not feel that he can also assume the role of the avenging god upon his own creation?  Of course, neither action is morally right.

Mary Shelley, as well as other Romantics, felt that the pursuit of science was dangerous, against ethical standards, even somehow inhuman.  There are some things that man is not meant to know, and the pursuit of this knowledge is dangerous to the soul.


accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this excellent novel shows that there is very little moral justification for making revenge the purpose of one's life. Actually, making this choice means you are acting immorally against somebody else, so any moral basis for such a choice is immediately contradicted. For a modern day example, you might look at the revenge killings that have plagued Albanian society. So much hurt and so much grief cannot be described as a moral response in any way.

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